Black Music Matters Festival

Cross Canadian Ragweed

Garage – 2005 (Universal South)

Reviewed by Ken Burke

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CDs by Cross Canadian Ragweed

Cross Canadian Ragweed's third major label disc pushes the alt.-country envelope more than previous releases by amping up their fabled red dirt sound with overtones of raw garage rock.

Working with producer Mike McClure - formerly of the Great Divide - lead guitarist / singer-songwriter Cody Canada and crew evoke a rowdy Allman Brothers ("Sister") via Lynyrd Skynrd on steroids groove ("Lighthouse Keeper"). Mixing '70's influenced party rockers ("Who Do You Love") with a tribute to fallen friend Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell ("Dimebag") and tales of enigmatic introspection ("Breakdown"), the quartet executes with authority and grit. In this setting, even the sitar seems like a rock rebel instrument ("When It All Goes Down").

Balancing out the political and social messages ("When It All Goes Down") are vivid doses of alt.-country ("After All") and Bob Dylan style paeans to redemption ("This Time Around") and star-crossed romantic addiction ("Bad Habit") that writhe with rueful humor. The band's full-out southern rock attack ("Final Curtain") allows Canada in particular to offer up some truly awesome guitar leads ("Late Last Night"). The resultant set smartly gives vent to both youthful disaffection and blue collar determination while creating some kick-ass jams for the non-traditional crowd.